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Pea Ridge schools removes face mask requirement

by Annette Beard | April 1, 2021 at 5:40 p.m.
NWA Democrat-Gazette/FLIP PUTTHOFF Pea Ridge High School Tuesday Feb. 13 2018.

Face masks will be optional at all four campuses in the Pea Ridge School District after a decision by the Pea Ridge School Board in a special meeting Thursday, April 1, 2021. The meeting was held via Zoom.

Governor Asa Hutchinson announced the state-wide face mask mandate would expire March 31. Officials at the Arkansas Department of Education announced decisions about face masks would be a local option, according to Pea Ridge school superintendent Keith Martin.

"We're here today to decide if we're going to continue with what we're doing, modify or eliminate what we're doing and require them to make them optional," Martin said in opening a special School Board

"From a data standpoint, our last positive case was Feb. 26. We've had no close contact, contract tracing, quarantine ... we've had zero cases in the last month," Martin said. "I've called each principal to get the pulse of their building."

He said the majority of the faculty and staff prefers the use of masks be optional, but that he believes the percentage of staff preferring a mask mandates or optional requirements reflect the preferences in society as a whole.

"From my standpoint, I believe we're at the point ... we can make it optional," Martin said, as he recommended doing away with the mandate and making it optional.

Martin said all other protocols prompted by the covid-19 pandemic are still going to be followed including limiting visitors into the school buildings, social distancing, hand watching, cleaning protocols, etc.

"We're going to continue to operate as we have all year, except without a mask on," Martin said.

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